Still Another Bobby Bowden Visit To Chattanooga

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - by John Shearer
Bobby Bowden also visited Chattanooga earlier this year. He spoke at Abba's House (Central Baptist Church) on a Sunday morning. He is shown with Senior Pastor Ron Phillips and Third District Congressional candidate Robin Smith during his visit. Click to enlarge.
Bobby Bowden also visited Chattanooga earlier this year. He spoke at Abba's House (Central Baptist Church) on a Sunday morning. He is shown with Senior Pastor Ron Phillips and Third District Congressional candidate Robin Smith during his visit. Click to enlarge.
- photo by Carl Scarbrough

The recently posted story in the Chattanoogan regarding retiring Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden and his 1978 visit to Chattanooga prompted an e-mail from Walter Grace Jr. in Fort Myers, Fla., about the successful coach's later visit to the Scenic City.

The story had mentioned that Coach Bowden was believed to have also later visited McCallie School. Mr. Grace - who attended McCallie from 1958-62 - verified that fact.

"It was 1991 and I talked him into speaking to the McCallie fall sports award event," said Mr. Grace, an FSU graduate and the grandson of former Chattanooga attorney Henson Schoolfield.

"That was made easier by explaining that I would have Coach (John) Day introduce him."

Coach Bowden had played at Samford University (then known as Howard College) under Coach Day before the latter became a coach and staff member at McCallie.

Mr. Grace said his connection to Coach Bowden was that he helped him recruit for Florida State in the days before recruiting guidelines were changed by the NCAA.

The Florida resident - whose stepson, Leon Fowler, was the starting free safety for Florida State at the time of the banquet - added that he remembers Coach Day fondly.

"Coach Day was the line coach at McCallie when I played there," he said. "He was a wonderful man."

Mr. Grace's mother was Marian Schoolfield Grace, a niece of well-known Chattanooga Judge Raulston Schoolfield and a 1935 graduate of Girls Preparatory School.

The Floridian added that he took his daughter to Chattanooga this summer to introduce her to the family roots.

"I went to the courthouse to procure some copies of my grandfather's probate records and ran into a guy that I played against, Jesse Potter of City High School," Mr. Grace said.

"That was very neat. I had not seen him since the night I played against him in 1961. I mentioned Steve Sloan, whom I also played against that year (when he was at Bradley Central), and he told me that he and Steve went on a recruiting trip to UT the same weekend.

"Of course, Bear Bryant (of Alabama) ended up stealing Steve away and the rest is history."

jcshearer2@comcast.net


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